After the Software Goldrush : Part 2

This is pretty impressive

as is this online Powerpoint variant


Both of these use the HTML5 Canvas tag, and a lot of very cool javascript… and quite a lot of very well put together and HTML and a lot of very well put together UI.

Maybe I’m feeling old… maybe I come from a Web rather than an App background – but both of these raise the bar in non-flash web-appness way beyond what the likes of us Web 1.0 / Web 2.0 code-veterans ever imagined we’d have to achieve. Simply getting the css in toolbars at the top to x-browser render would take… I don’t know? Days? Weeks? Maybe these are built up from building blocks that would make this sort of thing easier… and I guess at some point they will be. A Visual Basic for JS.

Still… the fact remains, I don’t think you can do this without a team of developers, including people doing nothing but usability/interface-design and some fairly good funding. I think the boot-strap days are long gone. They’ve been given a new lease of life with twitter and facebook apps… little stories of little fortunes made overnight, but they’re all… I don’t know, parasite apps? They exist at the indulgence of the app that creates the environment.

Recently I bailed out of another equity-only deal because, once again a well-funded competitor turned up with about 15 staff, 5 of which were paid developers working full time on what I was required to do on my own, in my spare time.

This is the 3rd time this has happened.

A while back I was working on a web-monitoring app… then turned up, funded by the guy who owned and then sold the biggest ISP in Sweden. A couple of years later this turned up, when I’d just written a little accountancy app. Xero is funded by one of the people – which sold for $750,000,000.

There’s this talk by Steven Levitt about Why Crack Dealers Still Live At Home.

Which describes the hierarchy of crack distribution… in which the people at the top are the same people that have been there for the last couple of generations – although there’s this mythology that “Anyone Can Make It”. Actually, there’s a hell of a lot of people working for free or next to nothing in the hope of “Making It”.

This is the way that the entertainment biz has always been and it’s the way that web entrepreneurialism works as well I think – though at least you wind up with fairly bankable skills, so it isn’t exactly the same.

I think every 5 or so years, a new “Blair-Witch-Project” of software (the latest being Twitter) will turn up and keep alive the myth that anyone can bootstrap a success story (the founders will then go on the lecture circuit telling people “it could be you!”)… but these are absolutely the exception. There are simply too many well-organised, well-funded, well-connected, well-followed people with software shops already having your bright idea… and if they’re not having it, once they see you doing it, they can just step in and build a proper version.

Recently someone on the PHP-NZ mailing list came out and said “most of the people here have worked on projects they know are going to fail”, and he was roundly attacked and vilified, but I don’t think he was wrong.

I think maybe (just maybe) this might be why DIY hardware/wetware is attracting more attention. There’s more of a chance to get on (or off) at the bottom.